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Change Management: How to Support Your Employees to Cope with Change

Organizational changes like a merger or acquisition can pose certain challenges, but none that you can’t overcome.

As cliché as it may sound, change is inevitable for any individual or organization. It may come in the form of a merger or acquisition, buyout, downsizing, a new set of managers, digital transformation, and so on. Amidst these changes, employees may feel a wide range of emotions—from fear to uncertainty and, maybe, excitement.

If not appropriately managed, problems associated with organizational changes might result to employees leaving. Being in a leadership or managerial position, it’s your responsibility to help your employees cope with change in a suitable atmosphere. Try following these steps.

1. Anticipate, and understand things that may happen at every phase of the transition

Upon announcement of the change that will take place, you can expect employees to have all sorts of questions. This is normal since it can be confusing at this point for everyone to understand how the change is going to affect them.

Assure your employees that you welcome any form of dialog or discussion to address their questions, and try to set the meeting with them as soon as possible. 

Then as you start implementing the new idea, process, or technology, you’ll also likely need to deal with complaints and mistakes from employees who are still trying to adjust to their new situation. Be patient and guide them through the right approach, especially if you’re introducing anything new. Emphasize the need to follow standard operating procedures to prevent security issues like a data breach.

Eventually, with your guidance, your employees will feel confident and motivated about coping with the change.

2. Communicate plans to employees clearly

Communicating change isn’t the easiest thing, but it’s necessary. For one, it’s the perfect opportunity to tell your colleagues or staff how implementing the change can improve the organization, whether it’s about growing your business globally or upgrading quality standards.

You should also explain the details of the change, including timeline, tasks, expectations, and challenges. Share with them how you intend to go about implementing the adjustments and how important their contributions are.

Emphasize the outcomes that you want the organization to achieve. This way, your employees will realize that you value results more than anything else and that they’re allowed to be flexible in how they aim to achieve the desired results. Remind your employees that they can come to you for assistance whenever they feel stuck.

3. Update your employees about the organization’s progress

A few months into your new setup, invite your employees to a company-wide meeting where you can brief them about the progress you’ve made so far. This can help your employees see how the new strategy stacks up against the old one, but be ready to support it with data and other hard facts.

You could also use this opportunity to gather feedback from employees regarding problems or issues they’ve encountered in using the new system or tools. Then, brainstorm on the possible solutions, and in case no final consensus is reached, let your employees know when you will roll out new or additional information.

4. Recognize small wins

Change may take time to produce the results you want, but you should be ready to recognize any form of individual or team achievement within your organization. This can be an excellent way to get other employees on board and get them to commit to do their part in implementing the change.

5. Keep a positive mindset

As with any change, know that there will be resistance along the way. Try not to focus on this aspect, and instead, keep a positive attitude. Change or no change, your employees expect you to be in control of the situation, so do it with a firm resolve while remaining helpful and approachable.

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